By Erin Donnelly
Photos by Andrew Hartl
This past Thursday evening MusiCounts hosted a benefit concert in Toronto to help gather support and awareness for their organization. The show was easily a hit, and hosts Steve Anthony and Talia Schlanger were engaging and entertaining throughout the night.
MusiCounts is a charity organization that gives underprivileged children the opportunity to learn and play instruments, otherwise they may never get the chance. Their reasons can vary from low income families and communities, to a lack of performance arts based classes and extracurricular activities for children.
Vanessa Thomas is the Director of MusiCounts and was incredibly pleased with the outcome of the event. She describes the charity as an organization to help “spread the joy of music through communities” and says, “music teaches collaboration and leadership” as well as “keeps the kids in school, and keeps them engaged.”
The show started off with a short but exhilarating performance by the Hitmen Drumline, a group of percussionists that brought the crowd up to their feet. Afterwards, the talented God Made Me Funky hit the stage and instantly the crowd was singing along to their pop covers. They played a variety of songs such as Bruno Mar’s “Uptown Funk”, Daft Punk/Pharrell Williams’ “Get Lucky”, The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout”, Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”, and Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”. As you might have guessed, the music was quite varied in order to appeal every age group in attendance. The band voiced many different aspects about how important MusiCounts is to our education system in Canada
Simone Denny, a Juno Award-winning R&B solo artist hit the stage with the ensemble as well as Canadian rock icon, Lee Aaron.
The Elwin’s came onstage next and performed some of their hit songs such as “Show Me How to Move”, “You Had Me”, “So Down Low”, and a surprise cover of Beyonce’s “Countdown”. They kept the crowd on the dancefloor and cheering. They commented on how important music was to them when they were in school and how their music program at Huron Heights Secondary School in Newmarket, Ontario had an exceptional teacher, as well as exceptional classes and extracurricular programs. And, if not for that kind of an underpinning, they may not be where they are as a band today.
I had a quick chat with the band after their performance, and they were happy to see the number of people that had turned out in support of the charity. They spoke of how crucial it is for “all schools, whether in the city, suburbs, or small towns, to have these kinds of programs and opportunities.”
Bucket List was the final band to perform and played a wild set! They performed covers of The Eagles’ “Take it Easy”, Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” (accompanied by Vanessa Thomas, and The Band’s “The Weight”.
Special guest, Toronto’s very own Mayor John Tory was also in attendance and went onstage to perform his rendition of Stompin’ Tom Connor’s “The Hockey Game”, along with Bucket List.
I asked Mayor Tory how important MusiCounts is to a city as large as Toronto. He said, “MusiCounts gives kids the chance to play instruments that might never get to”. He also remarked on the importance of such programs in schools, and was happy to see how much MusiCounts has done for the city of Toronto.
The evening also included a silent auction where guests were able to bid on unique items such as a signed guitar by Blue Rodeo. There was also a candy bar and a raffle. Food was provided by the Grand Electric who donated a portion of the night’s proceeds to MusiCounts.
MusiCounts works endlessly to ensure that all students across Canada have the opportunity to play music. They offer a variety of programs and instruments for students to try. To read more about their hard work, or to attend/donate/volunteer with the organization, check out their website link HERE.